When I requested this week off from work, I had three goals in mind. The first one was to clear most–if not all– of the clutter from my bedroom. The second was to find someplace else to live, and the third was to spend more time outside. My vacation officially ends on Monday, but I have only completed two of the tasks. The reason: I’m fussy, and I do not like any of the apartments I see. I have always lived in a house, so I will always have a bias against one large building with many people versus one medium-sized house for a few people. (I like my circle small, and apartment living equals many acquaintances)

De-cluttering, on the other hand, has gone well. (If I do say so myself) I am the progeny of two pack-rat parents. I used to make fun of them until I found out that I inherited that gene. I found so much junk in my bedroom that I was completely overwhelmed. I seriously contemplated sending organizer, and interior designer, Peter Walsh an email, asking him to help a sister out.

To the casual observer, my room appeared to be neat. In the past, my way of cleaning was to shove all the stuff I did not want to deal with into a nice box. Needless to say, I found several pretty boxes in my room filled with things like old curling irons, odd socks, receipts, kitchen utensils, and most shocking of all, the Walkman that I purchased in 1997. I also found every card that anyone has ever given me, from 1997 until now. I’m a sentimentalist at heart, so I will most likely take them with me wherever I move. Especially the cards I received from my dearly departed grandfather.

I also found lots and lots of nail polish. As I mentioned before, I collect it as one collects stamps, baseball cards, or vintage ornaments. Yet the number of bottles I had still shocked me. My mother tried to guess how much I had and said, “I bet it is at least 100.” Well…no. I have more than 100. Keep in mind that I have been collecting since high school, which means I have 14 years of purchasing at least 10 bottles per year. (Sometimes more) My sister-in-law was trying to talk me into leaving part of my collection behind. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

In a week, I learned what most neat-freaks have known from the start. It is much easier to keep track of one’s belongings when there are less of them. Clutter is a distraction. Now that my bedroom is mostly clutter-free, I can see where everything is. Most importantly, I can see when things are out of place. My mother told me that, if I spent the week cleaning out my room, (versus lounging around the house) it would help bring clarity to the rest of my life.

As usual, she was right. Getting rid of the non-essential things in my room helped me to focus. It was almost as though the physical act of getting rid of clutter was the catalyst for me getting rid of my mental clutter. I took a self-inventory of my life and priorities and changed my approach. I found out that living is not just about acquiring pretty things that look nice on shelves. Life is about the people I interact with, and whether I choose to be a positive force for change in the world, or a negative one.

I found out that each person is important, regardless of whom they are, and what they have done. It is not up to each person to rank people based on shallow and often changeable criteria. (Yet we do it all the time.) Everyone, from the President of the United States, to the criminal on death row, is worth something, simply because their birth. What a person chooses to contribute is down to them and their circumstances. At the end, everyone has a choice.

I choose to be a force for good. That does not mean that I will always do or say the right thing. I will miss the mark often. However, my mistakes help me learn what not to do in the future. I will use what I have learned to help someone else. I choose to live a life with standards, not of perfection, but excellence. I will use what (little) I know to help teach others.

I identify as Christian, but I am aware of the fact that my faith does not make me any better or any worse than anyone else. If anything, my public declaration of faith in God, is the epitome of acknowledging my weakness. At the end of my life, I want to be safe in the knowledge that I gave more to society than I took away from it. I want to secure the family legacy of philanthropy, and social activism that I am so proud to have inherited. Most of all, I want to fulfill my assignment.

American Pastor, Creflo Dollar once said in a sermon, “Whatever makes you the most angry in life, you are tasked with changing”

Finding what that is can take a lifetime, but it will be worth the search.

But first, get rid of the clutter.




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